Colts Cuts: Who's at Risk?

Ed Thompson takes you through the Colts roster by position group, pointing out the most likely candidates that the Colts are evaluating for their first-round of cuts.

By Tuesday, the Colts must submit their cuts to reduce their roster size to 76 -- the league-mandated 75 plus international development practice squad player Ben Ishola. The defensive end gets an exemption because he is assigned to the team's practice squad for the entire season and can't be called up to the active roster. As a result, he also doesn't count against the 8-man practice squad maximum that Indianapolis will form after their final cuts.

Excluding Ishola, the team has 87 players on the roster. Here are at the players -- by position -- that are at highest risk to be amongst the unfortunate dozen.

Wide Receiver
Aaron Brown
was a late addition to the roster after being cut earlier this year by the Bills. He hasn't caught a pass in the preseason and has been virtually invisible. Brian Hare was in the Colts camp last year and didn't make it through the cuts. After spending the spring in NFL Europa to further hone his skills, Hare returned to find an even more crowded and talented group of wide receivers than he had to compete against last year. Behind the starters, there's a pack that includes top pick Anthony Gonzalez, Aaron Moorehead, John Standeford, and rookie Roy Hall. And there are two guys nipping at that group's heels based on their preseason performances: Cro Thorpe -- who leads the team with 10 preseason catches for 111 yards and 2 TDs and Trent Shelton (7-59, 1 TD).

Offensive Guard/Center
With Dylan Gandy and Matt Ulrich returning from last year's squad -- plus the addition of veteran Rick DeMulling -- to backup the interior line group of Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday and Jake Scott, Sam Wilder is the odd man out. This group has so much talent that Ulrich -- who spent time on the active roster last year and the spring in NFL Europa -- could find himself back on the practice squad this year even though he's continuing to develop into a very solid interior lineman.

Offensive Tackle
Now here's a tough call. The Colts claimed former Texas Tech gargantuan Gabe Hall when the Giants waived him in late June, but he's been limited by an injury. At 6-4, 313 pounds, Hall is a converted tight end, just like Charlie Johnson, and he's got good pass protection skills and some real upside, so it would be surprising to see them drop him at this stage. He'd be a great practice squad candidate.  The team could opt instead to release 2006 draft pick Michael Toudouze, who just doesn't seem to be going anywhere with his game. Also at risk is undrafted free agent Joe Lobdell, but he's more capable of providing depth on the left side behind Tony Ugoh and Dan Federkeil, so the Colts may hold onto him until the final round of cuts.

Tight End
With Bryan Fletcher and Gijon Robinson dinged-up, the team might not make a move at this position in this round of cuts. But if Robinson looks like he'll be ready for Cincinnati, then expect the team to release Matt Farbotko, who they just re-signed last week for depth due to those injuries.

Quarterback

This one's easy. Since Jim Sorgi hasn't faltered badly during the offseason, look for the Colts' QB lineup to stay intact with Peyton Manning and Sorgi on the 53-man roster and Josh Betts spending another year on the practice squad. Mike McGann hasn't even earned a snap in the preseason, so he should be amongst this round of cuts unless the Colts just want him around as an emergency quarterback while Sorgi and Betts take on the Bengals in the team's final preseason game.

Running Back
With just five backs on the roster and this position still very much unsettled beyond feature-back Joseph Addai, don't expect any of these backs to be cut loose in this round.

Defensive End
Don't be surprised to see two of the twelve cuts come from this spot. The Colts are very deep with experienced DEs from last year's roster -- Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Bo Schobel, Josh Thomas, and Ryan LaCasse. Seventh-round pick Keyunta Dawson can play either DE or DT and the team likes what they've seen out of free agent Jeff Charleston. That could make recently added rookies Noland Burchette and Travis Leitko prime candidates.

Defensive Tackle
The most obvious cut from this group is Tom Johnson, who is finishing his second stint in a Colts camp after spending the spring in NFL Europa. But he's been limited by injury while newcomers like undrafted rookie Ed Johnson out of Penn State, third-round pick Quinn Pitcock and seventh-round pick Keyunta Dawson have pushed him out of the picture. At slight risk is former Rutgers defensive lineman Ramel Meekins, but he has enough potential and special teams value that the Colts may hold onto him and try to find a spot for him on the practice squad.

Linebacker
The pair that is most likely to be sent packing in this round of cuts are Victor Worsley, who has already been released once, and KaMichael Hall, who has been a surprising disappointment after being a Scouting Combine invitee and a projected low-round draft pick (who ended up being signed as an undrafted rookie). At strongside, the Colts have Rob Morris, Tyjuan Hagler, Rocky Boiman and Ramon Guzman -- who has been very noticeable on special teams, an area where the Colts are still trying to improve. At weakside, they have Freddy Keiaho, Keith O'Neill and hard-hitting rookie Clint Session. And while middle linebacker depth might appear to be suspect, don't forget that Morris is the team's choice to move to middle linebacker if Brackett gets injured, so he's No. 2 on the depth chart. And rookie Brandon Archer has shown a good nose for the ball and should be a priority for the team's practice squad.

Cornerback
This will likely be a last-in, first-out decision as the Colts added Cedrick Holt and Duane Coleman in late July. Neither one has had much time to absorb the system or standout. And with no serious injury problems at the position along with the physical play that the team is getting out of its corners so far, there's little reason to keep this duo around.

Safety
At this point, don't expect the team to part with more than one safety since that would trim the group down to six. The odds-on favorite at this point would have to be Norman LeJeune. Rookie Melvin Bullitt has shown some athleticism that should make him valuable enough to keep around for further evaluation, while Scott Ware has likely bought himself some more time -- and perhaps a spot on the practice squad again -- with his physical style of play.

Special Teams
Three of the four are your core group -- kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Hunter Smith and long-snapper Justin Snow. Shane Andrus has had the kind of preseason that should earn him a job somewhere in the NFL, but the Colts aren't going to use one of their final 53 roster spots to keep him in the wings in case Vinatieri would end up hobbled again this year. If Andrus survives this round of cuts, it will be because the team doesn't want to expose Vinatieri to injury during the Cincinnati game. But they'd likely be doing Andrus a favor by cutting him now and giving him a chance to audition for teams who are still looking for an NFL-ready kicker. Andrus has proven that he can handle both the kickoff and field goal responsibilities reliably at the pro level.


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